For the second year, Virginia Beach scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipality Equality Index (MEI). The MEI is an annual report that examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ+ people who live and work there. Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and leadership on LGBTQ+ equality.
Other Hampton Roads cities that are ranked in the report are Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, and Chesapeake. All cities except Newport News improved or maintained their rankings compared to 2020’s report. Newport News’ rankings fell from 74 to 70 out of possible 100 points. Chesapeake improved its score from 61 to 80, as did Hampton from 77 to 81. Norfolk remained at 91 points.
Virginia Beach has led the region in improving its score the past few years. The City achieved a perfect score by implementing these policies, procedures, and personnel:
- Offering transgender healthcare benefits to city employees.
- Convening a Human Rights Commission that has the power to enforce the city’s non-discriminatory ordinance.
- Hiring an LGBTQ Liaison in City Hall.
- Instating a policy to prevent youth bullying.
- Providing services to homeless youth and persons with HIV/AIDS.
- Creating a publicly stated leadership position on equality.
- Passing pro-equality legislation.
- Electing or appointing openly LGBTQ+ elected or appointed officials.
In 2020, every city in Hampton Roads that participated in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Ninth Annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI) enjoyed a dramatic rise in their 2020 scores, primarily due to the passage of the Virginia Values Act which guaranteed nondiscrimination protections in employment, housing and public accommodations for LGBTQ+ Virginians.
You can read each city’s full report below:
The MEI rates 506 cities including the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the U.S., the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state group members and supporters. It assesses each city on 49 criteria covering citywide non-discrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement and the city’s leadership on LGBTQ equality.